Yesterday saw the welcome return of Andrew Wilson to the blogosphere after a lent of virtual absence and abstinence. Andrew is a great writer and thinker, and is always stimulating and insightful. In his opening post he was offering ten reflections on his recent debates with Steve Chalke on the doctrine of Scripture. As per usual there was much good stuff in there, but his opening reflection got me thinking. His opening reflection was that Steve is a great guy who really loves Jesus and cares for people. Now I have never met Steve Chalke so this is more a hypothetical thought experiment than direct attack on someone I simply don’t know. Let’s pretend that we too are talking with someone who has some worrying views yet obviously loves Jesus. And let’s pretend that our interlocutor says things like the following:
- Jesus didn’t die a death of divine wrath bearing penal substitution as a propitiation – that would be cosmic child abuse.
- Jesus (who is fully divine and therefore works the works of the Father and Spirit in the classical Trinitarian doctrine of inseparable operation) does not actively punish Achan and his family (Josh 7) or Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5). He just doesn’t do that kind of thing!
- Jesus doesn’t worry too much about all that OT nastiness – he brings a new message of love and reconciliation.
- The Bible isn’t inspired anyway so we’ll have to pick and choose (Bultmann style) which Jesus bits we like.
At what point do you say the Jesus you so clearly love is a wax nose Jesus of your own moulding. The Jesus you love is not the Jesus of Scripture. The Jesus you love is not the same guy who is ruling and reigning today. Or at least your Jesus is a serious distortion of the reality. I guess the problem is we all have blind-spots and we’ll all hold wrong views on things (we’re not infallible) and some of those would have undesirable systematic implications if we pushed hard enough. Perhaps with our hypothetical friend we should affirm their love for Jesus in spite of their inconsistencies. But perhaps, and this is undeniably a much tougher thing to do, we have to say that that which they love is such an inadequate representation of the fullness that it is love for something else – in the case of our hypothetical friend – love for self. Thoughts?